The U.S. Government As Subprime Homebuyer
November 23, 2009

Edmund Andrews has a helpful piece in today's New York Times about some of the challenges our mounting debt pile will create in the next several years. And there's no doubt those challenges are significant. But, if you simply weigh all the data points in the piece, it actually makes a strong case that issuing all that debt amid the financial crisis and the recession was exactly the right thing to do.

Can the U.S. and India Play Nice on Climate Change?
November 22, 2009

A number of unresolved issues—China, Kashmir, etc.—will be swirling around Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s first state visit this Monday, but on none are the two hesitant allies more at odds than the conditions for a global climate treaty. Much of the news in the lead up to Copenhagen has centered on the possibility of some sort of deal between the two largest emitters, the U.S. and China. India, however, could very well be a more important (and elusive) partner in those talks.

Hillary in Moscow: Will the New START Treaty Cripple Conventional U.S. Military Power?
October 13, 2009

The news surrounding today's meeting between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is pretty bad. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken the opportunity to dump cold water on our hopes for more Iran sanctions and to trumpet a Sino-Russian gas pipeline deal that would weaken our hand in Central Asia. But, despite all that, it's worth keeping in mind that the "New START" treaty that Hillary is in Moscow to negotiate is a solid one. The deal would supplant both START I, the arms-control treaty signed by George H.W.

U.S., Egypt Co-Sponsor a Resolution on Freedom of Opinion and Expression. What the Hell is Going on? Only the A.P. Reported This: I Wonder Why.
October 05, 2009

This was the maiden sally of the United States at the U.N. Human Rights Council, a resolution under the rubric of "promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development." Phew! The measure was introduced by the U.S. and by Egypt, which, of course, has a long and sterling record as an insurer and defender of civilized liberties.

Is Immigration Down in the U.S.?
September 22, 2009

Today’s release of data from the 2008 American Community Survey offers demographic data-hounds their first detailed glimpse of the effects that the Great Recession is having on America’s population (no income and poverty numbers yet, however). By far the most reported finding was an apparent drop in the number of immigrants in the United States. This hit the headlines in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

U.S. Is "Concerned" About the Goldstone Report on Gaza; Maybe Washington Should Turn Its Eyes on Afghanistan and Itself
September 17, 2009

  No, my intention is not to embarrass our brave men and women fighting in Afghanistan and in armed flight over Afghanistan. Or even to question them. They are battling against enemies of civilization and of civilized life. And they richly merit our moral support. Yes, the U.S. air force, responding to endangered German ground troops under standing and perfectly reasonable NATO procedures, brought death to literally dozens of Afghanis. Estimates range from 50 to 90. Now, the issue is whether these dead were Taliban or civilians.

Mock Debate
June 11, 2007

Occasionally, the presidential primary debates serve as a forum for substantive exchanges on important issues. Most of the time, however, they feature rants and raves from the talented and crazy alike. Take this clip, for example, from the first Democratic debate, in which former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel harangues the top-tier candidates (and Joe Biden) about pre-emptive nuclear strikes: The key to winning the "debates" is not to present nuanced or reasonable arguments about policy. It's about getting in the best soundbite.

Ally with the Sunnis
November 27, 2006

The war in Iraq is lost--at least the original one, which was to make the place and then all of Arabia safe through democracy. The "democratic peace"--the idea that only despots make war while democracies are basically pacific--is as old as the republic itself. But not even Woodrow Wilson, the most fervent believer in the idea, went to war against Wilhelmine Germany in 1917 for the sake of democracy. That was the ideological icing on a power-political cake. The Kaiser's U-boats were sinking U.S.

Island Mentality
August 22, 2005

Guantnamo Bay, Cuba The detainee, by all appearances, is resigned to his fate. Throughout his hearing, he remains stoic, not once even shifting in his chair, let alone jostling the restraints that bind his wrists and ankles. His tan jumpsuit indicates his compliance with the camp guards. (The infamous orange jumpsuits are reserved for "problem" detainees.) When the panel of American military officers asks if he wants to submit additional statements on his behalf, he declines.

Speak No Evil
February 07, 2005

President Bush's inaugural speech was delivered on the day Muslims around the world celebrated Eid Ul Azha, the festival marking the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. But, as soon as it was over, the state- run news media of authoritarian U.S. allies in the Middle East were quick to criticize it. Egypt's Al Ahram lamented that Bush made no reference to either Iraq or Palestine, the two most important issues in the region Bush hopes most to democratize.